Jane Birkin, the beloved British-French actor and singer who spent most of her life in France and is known for a tumultuous relationship with French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, died on Sunday at her home in Paris, according to Le Parisien newspaper. She was 76.
No cause of death has yet been confirmed.
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Birkin was best known internationally for her steamy 1969 duet “Je t’aime… moi non plus” which she sang with Gainsbourg, one year after meeting him on the shoot of Pierre Grimblat’s “Slogan.” Although she hadn’t broken through at the time, she had a small but memorable part in Michelangelo Antonioni’s sultry 1966 film “Blow Up.”
Together, Birkin and Gainsbourg had a daughter, the actor and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg (“Melancholia,” “Nymphomaniac”). After splitting in 1980, the pair remained close and pursued their artistic collaboration. Birkin was creatively involved in three albums by Gainsbourg, “Baby Alone in Babylone” in 1983, “Lost Song” in 1987 and “Amours des feintes” in 1990. Birkin also released several solo albums, including “Di Doo Dah,” “Ex fan des sixties” and “Lolita Go Home,” and collaborated with other popular musicians such as Etienne Daho.
Birkin had two other daughters, the musician Lou Doillon with French director Jacques Doillon, and Kate Barry, the late photographer, whom she had with her first husband, James Bond composer John Barry.
Arriving in France during the 1960s, Birkin became a fashion icon in the 1970s importing an effortlessly chic style from “Swinging London.” She even inspired the French luxury brand Hermes to create the Birkin bag.
One of her best-known film credits is Jacques Deray’s “La Piscine” (“The Swimming Pool”) in which she starred opposite Alain Delon and Romy Schneider. She earned three nominations at the Cesar Awards, including for “La Pirate,” directed by Jacques Doillon. She made her directorial debut with “Boxes” which played at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007.
Birkin was portrayed by her daughter Charlotte in the documentary feature “Jane by Charlotte” in 2021. The critically acclaimed intimate documentary played at Cannes and was nominated for a Cesar Award.
Birkin, who was beloved for her optimism and unassuming charm, suffered a stroke in 2021 and had recently broken her shoulder blade which led her to cancel several concerts in March. Earlier this year, Birkin took part in the televised charity concert organized by “Les enfoirés.” Just three months ago, in May, Birkin canceled a new round of concerts that were set at the Olympia and La Cigale theaters in Paris and released a statement saying that while she had “always been a great optimist,” she realized that she “needed a bit more time to be able to be on stage.” Birkin was also struck by the tragic death of her eldest daughter, Kate Barry, in an apparent suicide 10 years ago. She evoked Kate in her last album “Oh ! Pardon tu dormais… “
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